Women with Sexually Addicted Husbands Often Neglected for Treatment

In a situation few spouses openly address, many are suffering in silence as their partner lives with sexual addiction or a condition like intimacy anorexia. Both can mean deep physical and emotional deprivation with serious consequences for a spouse – but recovery is possible, with many experts continuing to emphasize the need for both partners to actively participate in treatment together. Stories of spouses whose partners have a sexual addiction often include long periods of emotional detachment and a lack of intimacy, which are recognized as symptoms of the complex disorder. People with sexual addiction may use sex as a way to numb out or avoid creating close emotional bonds, even in a marriage. The results can mean withdrawal from emotional connections and sex that feels almost robotic. Unfortunately, many women whose husbands are sexually addicted blame themselves and feel they may not be adequate physically or have done something to provoke the behavior. As the feelings of shame worsen over time, they are less likely to seek the professional help needed to reach their own recovery. Some psychologists say women whose husbands are sex addicts do not often receive the treatment and care needed to move toward healing. In interviews with women whose husbands are sexual addicts, more than 80 percent were depressed; more than 60 percent said they had developed anorexia, bulimia or other types of eating disorders; and nearly 40 percent admitted to withdrawing their own emotional connections to their husbands and to others. In many cases, the male enters the marriage with deep-rooted and long-held intimacy problems which can be held in secret for years. Recovery from sexual addiction in a marriage is threefold: the husband, the wife and the recovery of the marriage itself. Treatment can include individual and couples therapy, as well as inpatient or outpatient treatments. Numerous 12-step programs can also help end the secrecy and reduce the shame associated with sex addiction. For women whose husbands are involved in sexual addiction, serious damage to self-esteem must also be addressed as part of treatment. Statistics show that women are more likely to remain in the marriage when the male agrees to professional treatment for sex addiction, but the highest success rates come when both partners work together toward recovery.

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